Keeping a strong brand identity while growing and being adaptable in the face of changing consumer attitudes is a challenge all businesses face. Richard Dodgson of Timebased Events shares his tips to help you strike the right balance.
Brand DNA is an integral part of any business; it allows a company to understand and portray its mission, purpose and core values, acting as a consistent backbone to communications and a blueprint for how to expand operations.
However, maintaining brand identity, particularly as a business grows, can prove to be one of the hardest challenges for any business.
Many factors can influence the DNA of a brand, ranging from the introduction of new people and changing social environments, to moving into a new office space.
Whether these factors have a positive or negative effect is determined by a business’ understanding of its own brand, ability to know when and how to evolve, and the extent to which they ensure their mission and values empower all employees to work together towards a common goal.
Value of brand integrity
Brand integrity is of real importance for any business. Especially as increased social consciousness has driven a demand for corporate transparency, and the digital age has delivered expanded means to achieve it, resulting in a heightened level of scrutiny over companies’ ethics.
Because of this, it is essential that a business discusses their mission, purpose and values regularly. The aim is to ensure the actions of the business and its employees are in line with the core principles of the brand DNA.
If a business is unsure about its brand principles, or hasn’t established any, it should go through a branding process. To get the most out of this, they should take time to identify an experienced and appropriate branding agency who can provide valuable objective feedback.
Whilst methods, mechanics and models may evolve and adapt to wider industry requirements, having strong brand integrity shows businesses, consumers and employees that you are trustworthy and authentic.
Empower your employees
Employees are the core of any business and the key to maintaining a company’s brand DNA; they have the power to act as ambassadors for the company’s core values, which will ultimately generate more business. That is why it is so important to ensure they understand, agree with and feel empowered by the company’s brand.
If an employee does not, then the synergy in the company will be compromised, resulting in members of the team working towards different goals. The flip side of the coin will see employees who feel valued and empowered by the brand working harder, pulling together out of a desire to see the business as a whole succeed.
However, this is only possible if a business hires staff who are in-line with their brand DNA and regularly communicate their values with their employees, encouraging constant learning between the teams and offering incentives aligned with the brand.
For instance, three of Timebased’s core brand values are creativity, cultural relevance and inclusivity. To bring these to life, the business regularly organises team trips and visits, for instance to exhibitions or installations, to encourage inter-team learning, enhance bonding and promote inspiration.
Adapt when you need to
While maintaining a sense of brand identity is crucial, holding onto values or practices which are no longer fit for purpose won’t do a company any favours.
To stay ahead of competitors, businesses need to be constantly evolving. Companies should be thinking about what future customers will want, what their evolving team are looking for fro their employer and what new tools and resources there are to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the business. They should then tweak their brand DNA to reflect these.
Take environmental CSR strategies, for example. In response to social movements in favour of preserving the planet, many companies have amended their principles to focus more heavily on the environment. These businesses have evolved their brand values as they understand consumers and employees will have more regard for a brand who cares about what they care about.
However, a note of caution; it is important that such changes to a brand’s DNA are well thought out. A company should never change so drastically that they completely lose their identity and the associated heritage which demonstrates its authenticity. When considering making a change or addition, business should be asking questions such as: what is the lifespan of the change, and is the investment strategically sensible? Bolting on quick solutions which completely overwrite existing brand values will only cause more harm than good.
Brand DNA is invaluable for any business’ success. However, the positive impact of establishing these values will only be fully realised if companies maintain them by recognising the importance of employee support and evolving their mission to meet changing needs. When this is done, they will benefit from a cohesive and more effective workforce, who will testify to the strength and authenticity of the company’s brand and, related to this, an improved public image which will help them secure more business and stay ahead of the competition.
Richard Dodgson is founder and creative director of Timebased, an events company that has collaborated with a wide range of brands from GQ and Vogue to Hugo Boss and M&S.
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